Salon Diary / By Karen Daly
A few hundred people on both sides of the Atlantic viewed and raved about IAW&A’s mid-September Transatlantic Salon. Produced and hosted by IAW&A President Maria Deasy and board member Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy, with board VP Brendan Costello handling the tech, the Sunday afternoon event featured a fabulous Irish line-up of poets, playwrights and storytellers. Music was on tap, from Darragh Carr Dance, world-class drummer Brian Fleming and star trad singer Caitriona O'Leary. Sisterhood was in the air, with the feminist collective Banshees and the SAOL Sisters community.
Dublin-born New Yorker Honor Molloy read the hypnotic first scene from her latest play “Dublin Noir.” Following her critically acclaimed productions of Round Room and “Crackskull Row,” the new play, set in 1939 and 1941 and moving between Mountjoy Prison and a farm near Drogheda, explores love, lust, obsession and murder. The playwright was abetted by Maeve Price, also an Irish-born New Yorker, reading stage directions.
Joining us from County Galway, Dr. Michael Brogan showed that he is “a man of many passions” — including traditional sailing and choral singing. A veteran of many ocean voyages, he showed a short film about the Galway Hooker Festival, told a tale about an Artic voyage he took part in, and performed a song.
Then, Darragh Brogan, Mayo-born, London-based pianist and yes, Michael’s son, shared a gorgeous performance of Chopin’s challenging “Ballade No. 3.” Darragh is a solo concert and chamber pianist in Ireland and the UK.
IAW&A members have collaborated with our friend Joe Mooney of Dublin’s East Wall History Group and the Sean O’Casey Theatre. Joe introduced
Paul Horan of the East Wall PEG Drama & Variety Group. A versatile actor, director and writer, Paul brought to life Brendan Behan reminiscing about his granny, from the Bottle Boy pub on North Wall Quay, Dublin. http://eastwallforall.ie
More Dublin friends, Ray Hegarty and the SAOL Sisters, came to us from Dublin’s North Inner city. SAOL Project, (“Saol” means “life”) celebrating 25 years this year, is Ireland's only All Women’s community project focused on improving the lives of women and children facing addiction and poverty. The women of SAOL performed an affecting original poem by a SAOL sister who recently passed away. The poem outlined the trajectory of her life, concluding with her thanks to SAOL for changing it. The sisters gave us a joyous ending performing Ray’s song “No More Sorry from Me” with Ray on guitar. https://www.saolproject.ie
Award-winning Dublin born poet Paula Meehan has held the distinguished role of Ireland Professor of Poetry. “Imaginary Bonnets with Real Bees in Them,” from UCD Press, collects her lectures from that time. She writes for stage and has collaborated with dancers, visual artists and film makers.
Paula read from her newest collection “As If By Magic: Selected Poems,” coming this month from Dedalus Press, and collected during lockdown from over thirty years of poetry making. She offered several brief poems, some commemorating the Dublin of her youth, such as “The Old Neighborhood.” In another, she remembers the words of her “salty-tongue grandmother, Hannah.” Paula urges readers to support small presses that in turn support poetry.
Banshee, a collective of six Irish women artists — Emer Martin, Helena Mulkerns, Imelda O'Reilly, Caitriona O'Leary, Elizabeth Whyte and Darrah Carr — formed in New York in 1997, delivering live performances in their respective genres of dance, fiction, song, poetry, drama and satire. Now scattered between the United States and Ireland, last year they performed live at the Wexford Literary Festival, and at a sold-out performance at Dublin’s Button Factory. Learn about each of them at www.Banshee.info
Banshee appeared in our virtual world, with Helena Mulkerns reading first. Her “Acacia Dreaming” appears in “Ferenji,” a story collection inspired by her tenure with the UN Peacekeeping Mission. She paints an indelible portrait of women in Asmara, Eritrea who gather by a great acacia tree and pray for “...peace...the biggest small word in the world.”
Imelda O’Reilly, filmmaker, poet, writer and professor, performed three poems of fast-paced, rhythmic word play. They include an homage to women, “Women with Irons and Kitchens,” one about motherhood, titled “Hoax.” Look for Imelda’s latest film, the critically praised Tumbling Towards Home at online film festivals.
Novelist Emer Martin read a heartbreaking passage from her latest novel about the infamous Magdalene laundries, “The Cruelty Men, ” and urged viewers to call for reparations for the laundry women. Emer, a Guggenheim fellow, experiencing “California fire time” contributed a powerful poem about climate change, “Resist.”
Internationally known for her performances of early Irish music and her many popular trad albums, Caitríona O’Leary sang a Sean Nós lament and a lively children’s song.
Banshee and IAW&A Board Member Darrah Carr showed sections of her dance film, “Dancing the Great Arc,” a collaboration between Darrah Carr Dance and musicians Dana Lyn and Kyle Sanna. During lockdown, the company shot individual videos of their roles in backyards, parks and apartments, demonstrating the power of dance to uplift in any setting.
Elizabeth Whyte wrote, directed and acted prior to becoming Executive Director of the Wexford Arts Centre. A captivating storyteller, Elizabeth showed the Wexford installation “Murmuration” by text artist Nicola Antony, who created starlings from words of poem by Louis de Paor.
Calling in from Kerry, world-renowned drummer Brian Fleming said he was “inspired and humbled” to follow our stellar lineup as the Salon closing entry. Brian, festival creator, community activist and co-producer of NY’s annual St. Pat’s For All Concert, gave a spoken word performance that riffed on a Dublin painting by Vera Klute. Interpreting the figure as a trumpet player who becomes unhinged after losing his dog, Brian calls the piece “Lament for Joey the Lips” or “Hip Hop Polka.” To end on a more humorous note, Brian played and sang a song about a seedy Dublin bus terminal. http://www.brianfleming.ie/
Hosts Maria Deasy and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy ended the Salon with gratitude to all who presented, and Kathleen thanked the artists for “bringing joy and love when we needed it.” This being IAW&A, the craic continued online, after the Salon ended, with great enthusiasm to go transatlantic again.